Back in May I reviewed the Dell Latitude D620 and was very impressed. With the D620 Dell had produced a well built and feature rich business notebook with an attractive design and good ergonomics. I was therefore keen to take a look at the Latitude D420, which represents Dell's latest ultra-portable business offering.
As one might expect, the D420 looks like a small D620 - it looks like Dell is keen to keep the same styling across various models, much like the IBM ThinkPads. There's definitely nothing wrong with the Latitude styling - the matt sliver and black finish has a minimalist look to it that should please the corporate masses. It's also pretty light at 1.49kg with the standard battery, while even with the extended battery attached, the D420 only weighs in at 1.67kg. With dimensions of 294 x 210 x 25mm (WxDxH) it's not too big either - although not quite as svelte as the Latitude X1, which is in fact a re-badged Samsung Q30.
As well as being thin and light, the D420 is also the first Dell notebook with an integrated HSDPA 3G module. Actually, the D620 that I reviewed had a 3G module built into it, but it wasn't activated, so in reality, this is the first 3G notebook that I've seen from Dell. Dell has an agreement with Vodafone, so if you buy a D420 it will ship with a Vodafone SIM already installed - then it's just a matter of activating the SIM and you're away.
Performance from the integrated HSDPA module was very good and I managed to get the full 1.8Mbit/sec download speed whenever I connected. I used the Dell in a number of locations and it managed to lock onto a 3G signal pretty much everywhere. Dell supplies its own utility for connecting via the integrated HSDPA module, but the Vodafone Mobile Connect desktop is also supplied in the box on a USB memory key. There's nothing stopping a customer from using a non-Vodafone SIM with the D420, but of course you'll have to also get corresponding software, since the Dell utility is Vodafone specific.
Considering that the D420 has an integrated HSDPA module, I could forgive Dell for not including a PC Card slot - but despite its slim form, this machine still sports a Type II PC Card slot, something that the Dell X1 ultra-portable lacked. Although I can't really think of anything that you'd need to put into the PC Card slot.